About 25% of all critical infrastructure in the United States is at risk of becoming inoperable due to flooding, according to a report released on Monday.
The report, "The 3rd National Risk Assessment: Infrastructure on the Brink," was produced by First Street Foundation, a non-profit research group which concluded that "many infrastructure discussions over the past 20 years have been centered around possible physical attacks, energy crises, and terrorism, but climate change has a higher probability of significant impact on the nation’s infrastructure."
The report checked residential properties, roads, commercial properties, critical infrastructure, and social infrastructure, revealing that 35,776 critical infrastructure facilities — including police and fire stations, hospitals, airports, and wastewater treatment facilities — are at risk of being impacted by worsening flood events, a number which is expected to rise to 37,786 in 30 years.
Moreover, within the same time period, an additional 1.2 million residential properties, 66,000 commercial properties, 63,000 miles of roads, and 6,100 pieces of social infrastructure will also have flood risk that would make them inoperable, inaccessible, or impassable, USA Today pointed out from the report.
The report was released as Congress continues to be stalled in passing a bipartisan infrastructure bill that includes $550 billion in funding for new investments into roads, bridges, broadband, water, and rail, The Hill reported.
The legislation also includes $40 billion for the repair, replacement, and rehabilitation of bridges, funds that would also address climate change and resilience.
The report found that the flood risk is greatest in the U.S. in Louisiana, which is home to six of the top 20 most at-risk counties in the country.
Jeremy Porter, First Street's head of research and development, told CNN that while New Orleans, for example, has improved its infrastructure and levees to hold off stronger storms, the city is "going to have to continually be updated as the environment changes in the future. The infrastructure that's in place today isn't going to protect New Orleans in five, 10, 15 years. That's only going to get worse as sea level rises, as storms not only become more frequent but become stronger."
Florida also has some of the most flood-prone counties in the U.S, but the report stressed that flood risk isn't confined to coastal areas due to the growing threat of heavy rain, explaining that as the planet becomes hotter, a warmer atmosphere can hold more water.
This makes extreme rainfall in which massive amounts of water are dumped in short periods of time more likely, according to the report.
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